4 min

With the mostest

Honey hostess English has fun with costumes

Credit: Kevin Teneycke

He bears the name of a language and a cucumber, but English is a piece of this city’s gay club scene. Known for serving up his own sense of style and aesthetics, this fashion freak can be found at clubs, salons, clothing stores and Coronation Balls. Or at drag shows where he can been seen looking like a wild child. English continues his tradition of high camp glamour at The Lotus Hotel where he is helping make the straight world a little gayer and the gay world a little funner. You go, girl!

Michael Venus: What has been keeping you busy?

English: Right now, I am working pretty much full-time at the Lotus Hotel in the Milk Bar and the Honey Lounge. I’m a bartender at Milk and the Maitre d’ at Honey on Saturday nights for Ivona Booking’s Queen Bee Drag Revue. I run the room, greeting people, making sure the cameras and lights are all set up and at the end torn down. During the show I’m like the hostess with the mostest; I get to dress up in my fun little outfits and costumes, have my hair all different colours, look fabulous and make sure everyone is having a good time. My costumes can be very gender-bender. The show itself is more of a cabaret show than a regular drag show; it was originally at Milk but got so big we had to move it to Honey and it’s gotten even better: all the tables are full to standing room only. It’s predominantly a straighter mixed crowd which is more neutral ground for straights; instead of going to a gay club to see a show, this is more accessible for them. All three rooms are pretty mixed but Milk is definitely the gay bar, especially on Plush Fridays with Martini (there are so many hot guys). To me it’s sort of like the old Royal Hotel vibe on Fridays, packed with the after-work, before-the-club crowd or the guys who are tired of going to the same old dance clubs (not mentioning any names).

MV: How is the Gastown vibe with Woodward’s being right there and all that? Is it getting better?

E: It can be hard here just because we are right beside it all, but luckily for us this is more of a destination; we don’t really get walk-by traffic.

MV: How long have you been in Vancouver?

E: I moved here in ’87. I am originally from Prince George and wanted to get out of the small-town scene; I was the big freak so I moved here right after graduation. I started right away at Zero F Hair Salon and worked there for a couple years and began working at the old Graceland. I was the cigarette boy. I would sit there behind a big marble table with an Elvis bust beside me and I sold chips and smokes. I’ve been in clubs ever since. During that time I began working at The Odyssey, left the hair salon and began also working at The Underground which I did for seven years. I worked at Celebrities for a while before they closed and eventually ended up at the Royal Hotel working in the pub and the hotel. I was there for about two years until they went straight and sold it off. I chilled out for a while and decided what I wanted to do until my friend Gerald wanted me to come to Milk.

MV: You have been in the gay scene for so long. What would you say the state of the club scene is, Mary?

E: Hopefully the future will be brighter if we ever get a new government in here! Things will hopefully become a lot more relaxed on laws and regulations, and maybe we’ll get a another club or two opened because there aren’t many options. Before, it was like, there were straight clubs and then there were gay clubs and all the hot chicks would come to the gay clubs because they were cooler and they could have fun without getting bothered. A lot of these gals would hit on the gay guys and the boys would be, ‘like whatever!’ Then the straight boys clued in that all the hot chicks were at the gay clubs so they started coming down so it became that even the gayest of bars became mixed. Now the gay guys are going to the straight clubs and mixing them up, which I think is great. It is the wave of the future, I guess.

MV: You are not really a typical kind of fag either, are you?

E: I guess not; I mean I went through my punk rock phases and my alternative years. I still love to dress up and perform.

MV: I was just going to say you have been involved in the whole court system and do your own sort of drag.

E: Yes. I was Mister Gay Vancouver XIV and I was also Emperor XXVII along with my Empress Joan-E. I would do a lot of guy numbers like Billy Idol, Dead or Alive, Doctor and The Medics, and I loved doing Vanilla Ice. He was always fun. At the shows now, I am more what I like to call a gender-fuck! People will ask me if I’m in the show and I tell them that I am the floor show! I hate throwing stuff out so I have a huge closet full of fun things. I mean, you never know when something will come back in style.

MV: Who motivates you?

E: A lot of the local drag performers. I like the idea of being two different people. I have the whole club persona of being wild and fun but at home I’m very quiet and actually shy.

MV: There are a lot of wild events that happen in the hotel. Tell me about that.

E: Well there was the PCAN [gay nudist] association who had an all-nude event this summer, but because of the law I had to wear underwear while serving behind the bar. You have to be there to experience it all! The fetish parties are always wild and sexual. Let’s just say this is a great place to meet friends, lovers, future exes.

MV: What is your favorite sexual position?

E: Rimming.


Saturdays at Honey.

Lotus Hotel.

455 Abbott.